The Giant Killer

Comment by Jim Campbell

September 9th, 2021

In today’s Army this soldier would have likely been removed and or terminated for what would be considered reckless endangerment of his troops as well as the deaths of many more.

They are owed a debt of gratitude for their service as well as prayers for those who didn’t survive this type of leadership.

A woman looks at the names of soldiers who lost their lives during the Vietnam War, on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, on May 30, 2021, in Washington DC. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Things were of course different during Vietnam with hard nosed North Vietnamese troops so it was likely a kill or be killed scenario that resulted in another lost war.

There are 57,939 names inscribed on the wall of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.

7 Purple Hearts!

This was Sgt. McConnell’s squad in Vietnam in ’68. (McConnell sitting on the ground in the left front). They were part of B-Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division.

Randy McConnell of Nokomis, Fla. received seven Purple Hearts, more than any other living American soldier, for six months of intensive fighting with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam during the “Tet Offensive” in 1968.

He was also awarded two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor together with an Army Commendation Medal with a V-device for valor.

His world came crashing down in his freshman year at the University of Michigan when injuries sidelined him from the football team.

He lost his college scholarship and ended up joining the Army in 1967.

His uncle served in the 101st Airborne Division and convinced him to go airborne and become a “Screaming Eagle,” too.

After jump school he also became a “Pathfinder.”

These soldiers established landing zones on battlefields and lead troops into war zones.

“We never found the enemy command post.“

It was only by the grace of God we survived all that happened that morning.

It was a matter of laying down screening fire and getting close enough to take out the enemy bunkers with grenades.

We took one after another after another bunker.“

For his efforts Robert Patterson received the Medal of Honor and I was awarded my second Silver Star,” McConnell said.

“By this time our unit had quite a reputation for killing the enemy.

We would leave ‘Kill Cards’ on dead enemy soldiers to let the NVA and VC know who killed their men,” McConnell said.“

My seventh and last Purple Heart came when my Achilles tendon was hit by shrapnel from a mortar shell fired by the NVA or VC on May 20, 1968.

When the enemy first attacked I had 22 magazines of M-16 (rifle) ammunition in my vest,” he recalled.“

I was on my last magazine when I decided it was time for me to move back up to our mortar station.

That was when I discovered I had been hit in the ankle by shrapnel and couldn’t walk.

I crawled back to where our mortar-men were.”

He was evacuated to a hospital in Yokohama, Japan and later sent to Beaumont Army Hospital in El Paso, Texas to recover from his ankle wound.

Weeks later, when McConnell could walk without the aid of crutches, he was allowed to return on leave to his Michigan home.“

I flew into Detroit on a civilian aircraft on my way home. I was dressed in my khaki uniform, three rows deep in ribbons on my chest, my shoes were spit-shined and I had the Airborne glider patch on my hat.

I thought I was probably going to be greeted as a war hero. “I had no idea about all the Vietnam War protests that had been going on back home.

When I reached the airport in Detroit I was greeted at the gate by a group long-haired hippies who spit on me,” he said with emphasis after decades.“

You have to keep in mind, I was coming right off the killing fields with no counseling.

I was thrown into this situation without any preparation.

I was in a bad mental state at the time having see so much battlefield action. I wasn’t concerned about what the hippies might do to me, but what I might do to them if they got close enough.“

I took my Army uniform off at the Airport and changed into civilian clothes for the remainder of the trip.

After spending time with my family, I served the last six month in the Army at Fort Rucker, Ala. reassigned to a ‘Pathfinder’ unit.”After attending college and graduating as an engineer, McConnell spent the next 30 years of his life working as a water and sewer superintendent in three Michigan communities.

Battles/Campaigns: Tet Offensive, Vietnam War This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, May 11, 2015 and is republished with permission.In December 1967 McConnell went to Vietnam attached to B-Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division.

He arrived in country a month before North Vietnam launched the “Tet Offensive.”

This was the largest series of battles during the Vietnam War involving upwards of 80,000 North Vietnam Army and Vietcong guerillas and the fighting lasted through May.

It was a military disaster for the North, but at the same time “Tet” caused many Americans to side with the Vietnam Protesters in this country against the war. It was the beginning of the end of U.S involvement in Vietnam.“

I was 21 on Jan 30, 1968, the day before ‘Tet’ started.

We were at a rubber plantation near Bien Hoa where we set up a defensive perimeter.

We were there about a month,” the 68-year-old local resident recalled.“

That’s where I got my first Purple Heart on Jan. 31, 1968. We had been probed at night by the Vietcong (VC) and the North Vietnam Army (NVA).

They attacked that night and we killed maybe a dozen of the enemy.

I was one of the people sent out to retrieve some of the enemy bodies.“I found a body, rolled it over and started dragging it back to our lines.

The enemy had already booby trapped it with a white phosphorous grenade.

As I began dragging the body the grenade went off.

I got burned on my chest in the blast.“

I received my first Silver Star a short time later when we were moving up Highway 1 with armored personnel carriers.

I had a gun Jeep with an M-60 machine-gun mounted on it.

“Along the way we dismounted and went out on a search and destroy mission.

We were searching rice paddies for enemy when we came up on a tree line and ran into two enemy machine-gun bunkers,” McConnell said.

“Before my platoon could flank the machine-guns and knock ’em out, they wounded or killed 47 of our men. Seven of our men were evacuated and one was killed.“

We had to maneuver closer in under enemy fire to take the bunkers out.

I had an M-16 rifle and my Grenadier had an M-79 grenade launcher.

When we got close enough to do the job, I laid down supporting fire so he could lob a grenade into the enemy bunker.“

Just before we were able to knock out the second bunker I got shot in the chin and chest.

It was kinda of a bad day for me,” he recalled more than four decades later.

Eventually we knocked out both bunkers and took some NVA prisoners.“I got evacuated out that day.”

It was the battle in which he received his second Silver Star McConnell recalls best during the six months and three days he served in Vietnam.“

We were in LaChu when our squadron commander Lt. Col. Julius Becton, who later became a lieutenant general before he retired, decided we were going to attack the enemy at night in formation.

He had no idea what we were getting into.“

At 2 a.m 100 of us initiated our night attack against, what we learned later, was the D-212 NVA Battalion intrenched and waiting for us.

It was by far the worst battle I was involved in,” he said with a grimace.

“We were drastically out numbered by a seasoned NVA battalion who knew the territory.“

It was pitch black night when the enemy opened fire on us.

Immediately I ran into an enemy machine-gun bunker.

I returned fire and right away two more NVA soldiers popped out of spider holes on ether side of the machine-gun.

I shot and killed one of the soldiers holding an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade),” McConnell said.“

I got the second soldier in the other spider hole just as he fired his RPG at me.

It hit the side of an armored personnel carrier beside me, then hit the ground in front of me and spun like a top.

I knew it had a time fuse that would go off any second.“When it exploded it threw me into a nearby tree.

I was hanging upside down from a branch with a piece of shrapnel in my neck. I thought I was a goner.“

When the medic got to me I was bleeding profusely from my neck wound.

I stuck my finger in the hole in my neck to stop the bleeding,” he said. The medic got me out of the tree and set me upright on the ground to work on me.

It was May 6 and this was my fifth Purple Heart wound. I remember asking the medic, ‘Am I gonna make it doc?’“He patched me up with a band aid and said to me, ‘Get your ass back in the battle!’ “That’s exactly what I did.

THE END

About JCscuba

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2 Responses to The Giant Killer

  1. Annie says:

    Disgraceful conduct from this nasty Biden and his Blacken House of Evilness. The Viet Nam war was such a unnecessary hyped up war that served no purpose, and we should have never been brought into such a callous and demeaning war in the first place. But these politicians just had to go and do it anyway. I lost several of my male school mates, one was my 6th grade boy friend, Gary, and I recalled his passing. So tragic, only 18 years old, leaving behind his fiancé. Such a reckless and careless war, especially when the traitor queen Fonda went over to Viet Nam and spewed her wretched venom. That was a statement that I’m for sure will haunt her the rest of her dismal life, but knowing her own mentality, I doubt it; she should have been executed as the traitor that she was and still is. Not impressed with the likes of an evil-doer. And now, the loss of our 13 military men all being purposely slaughtered by the “sink-hole-pus-filled brain of Biden who needs to be arrested, court-martial and executed. They are saying now that he was sent to GITMO and was executed, and has a double by the name of “Moe Hiden” — Really? Way too close of names to convince me, plus anymore, it takes a lot for me to believe, especially in a nation laced with liars and lies and deceit and more lies and RINO’s turning towards the crimes of the democrats. It’s going to take a lot, believe me in order for me to really take notice on the “real” truth in what’s happening.

    Like

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